Europe's Bishops Affirm Value of Collegiality

Council of European Episcopal Conferences Marks 40 Years

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ST. GALLEN, Switzerland, MARCH 30, 2011 ( On the 40th anniversary of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), the bishops of that region are affirming the value of their collegial network.

The CCEE president, Cardinal Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, and two vice presidents, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France, and Cardinal Josip Bozanić, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, affirmed this in a letter for the March 25 anniversary.

The letter, which was sent to all the prelates of Europe, noted that the CCEE «can be considered a fruit of the Second Vatican Council and the deepening of the ecclesiological truth of the communion of bishops.»

«Time has demonstrated how important these relationships have been,» it affirmed, «so much so that in the two Synods of Bishops for Europe (in 1991 and 1999) it was possible to count on a network of friendships between bishops, fundamental for progressing the enormous challenges present at the dawn of the third millennium.»

«Today in Europe the challenges are perhaps different, but the importance of the relationships between us bishops and between our bishops’ conferences has in no way diminished,» the prelates affirmed.

«If anything," they added, «today one feels even more the need to nurture these relationships by a fruitful exercise of episcopal collegiality, experienced in communion with the Pope, so as to be able to preserve the good of the Church and be more effective in the fulfillment of our mission.»

The CCEE presidency stated, «Our efforts to establish networks of friendship and solidarity, at a time when life is ever more inter-linked, thus becomes a testimony of the Church’s care which, being Catholic by nature, feels called to be present and to bring the light of Christ to this globalized world.»

Main focus

Outlining the main concerns of the CCEE, it noted that «all our attention» is «focused on the person in Europe, his/her personal, spiritual and social situation.»

«We think in particular about questions linked to migration and problems connected with the demographic collapse: of the family, the education and culture of the respect for life to defend it in all its stages, from conception to natural death,» the prelates stated.

They added, «Only the culture of love and life can guarantee a future.»

The letter continued: «How can one not also think of the different dimensions of daily life in Europe and therefore of the political questions and the necessary relationships between Church and state?

«And our relationship with creation, with God’s gifts which have been offered to us as sustenance and which raise our eyes heavenwards, but about which too often we forget that we have been given responsibility for their fair administration in the knowledge that we are not the owners but simply stewards who must make the ‘Lord’s vineyard’ bear fruit and hand it over intact to the next generation.»

The prelates affirmed, «Also and above all to love the human person means for us to give each person the opportunity to encounter and know Jesus Christ.»

«For this reason CCEE is particularly committed to evangelization and care for the faith,» they stated. «In this sense the unity of Christians and ecumenism are privileged topics for our attention and commitment.»

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